News East West
NEW DELHI, Sept 1: Self-styled Indian godman Asaram Bapu, who has been mocking police by refusing to submit for questioning for allegedly molesting a minor girl a fortnight ago, was arrested on Saturday night.
The godman, who was supposed to surrender within four days as per the August 26 summons to him by Jodhpur police, was picked up by cops from his ashram (a term used to describe places where saints with followers live) in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
Thousands of followers of the godman had gathered at the ashram during the day, but the arrest took place just after mid-night. Police reportedly entered his fortified ashram and found him hale and hearty despite his claims that he is unwell. He was arrested and taken out in a car to Indore airport where he spent the night in the VIP lounge before being flown to Delhi by an Air India flight and then to Jodhpur.
After he was brought to Jodhpur, the godman was taken to the Dangaiawas police station which is about 30 kilometre outside the city, not the Mahila Thana where the case is lodged against him. He would be taken to the ashram where he allegedly molested the girl on August 15 for spot verification.
The father of the 16-year-old girl, who was on fast-unto-death in Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh seeking justice, ended it after the arrest of Asaram Bapu.
The 72-year-old godman allegedly molested the girl, who is a student at the gurukul (school) run by him at Chhindwada in Madhya Pradesh, in his ashram near Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
He was served summons on August 26 to appear before police in connection with the case within four days to record his statement.
As the deadline loomed on Friday, the godman reportedly sent a fax letter to the police saying that he would not present himself before them as he was unwell. The godman’s son Narayan Sai said his father was ready to fly but air tickets had to be cancelled because of his sudden illness. An anticipatory bail application was also moved by the godman’s lawyer in Ahmedabad but it was withdrawn as the judge before whom it was moved indicated that he would reject it.
Police rejected the godman’s fax letter and said he won’t be given any extension and issued an alert at airports to be on the look-out for the controversial godman.
The 16-year-old girl, who comes from Sahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, has alleged that she was sexually molested by the godman in his ashram near Jodhpur in Rajasthan state on the pretext of curing her of her illness on August 15. The godman allegedly asked the girl to perform oral sex which she declined.
The girl had fallen ill and the godman allegedly advised her parents to bring her to him to Jodhpur. When the girl was brought to Jodhpur on August 12, the godman reportedly told her parents that he would perform a special ritual for her health in an isolated place.
“He took them (the girl and her parents) to his ashram at Manai (20 km from Jodhpur) on 14 August and observed the ritual with his parents on the same night. But next day, he said the second ritual will again have to be observed, but with the girl being alone with him in his hut. On the night of August 15, bapu took the girl in his hut and allegedly exploited her sexually (unnatural sex),” the chief of Delhi Police chief said last week.
The girl was so shocked that she refused to accompany the godman to Ahmedabad and instead asked her parents to take her home. Two days later, she broke down and narrated her ordeal to her parents.
When her parents came to Delhi to confront Asaram Bapu, who was at a religious camp at the Ramlila Grounds between August 18-20, the godman refused to meet them, forcing her father to lodge a complaint against him in Delhi.
This is when her parents registered a case against him in Delhi.The Delhi Police later transferred the FIR to their counterparts in Rajasthan state where the alleged crime took place.